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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
PlayStation 3
Gusto Games
GENRE: Sports
PLAYERS:   1-4
November 02, 2010
 Written by Mike Gutierrez  on November 10, 2010

Review: He's no Chubbs, but he's still a decent teacher.

Golf games, much like motion control games, have been especially dominated by one big player for the last few years. As PlayStation recently jumped into the motion market with its Move controller, so does John Daly into the world of simulated golf. Both these new endeavors have aligned themselves to each other to make a splash in their respective fields. Can this game pull off a hole-in-one or is it just par for the course?

John Daly's ProStroke Golf is the latest sports outing by Gusto Games, which is currently exclusive to the PlayStation 3 and being developed for both 360 and PC. The game builds off of 2007's innovative ProStroke Golf: World Tour, bringing the experience to HD consoles, incorporating a bold motion interface, and adding in the flair of John Daly himself. Sporting 16 courses, many of which are licensed, and four modes of play (Practice, Exhibition, Challenge, and Tournament), it's a more than adequate content package to satisfy any golfer. For those using the Move controller, the game provides three settings - Amateur, Pro, and Tour Pro - to ease you into the simulation. Fans of older Tiger games will be thrilled to find that the charismatic Sam Torrance has been tapped to provide commentary, and if you're wondering, yes, he does dissappointedly remark ?It's on the dance floor, but he won't hear the band? when you make it onto the green, but far away from the pin.

The most notable feature of the game is the ProStroke View, and it's really what sets it apart from its competitors. Unlike most golf games where you view the stroke from behind the golfer, here you look down in first person view at the golf ball and your club where it would naturally be when you're setting up for the shot. For anyone who actually plays golf, this actually is kind of a big deal, especially for motion control. A huge part of putting together your swing is keeping your eye on the ball, and it's simply not replicable in most golf games.

I first played ProStroke using the Move motion controller and later used the standard DualShock 3 controller to see how the game stacks up.

My initial experience with the Move was difficult to say the least. Driving off the tee is simple enough (?Grip it and rip it? as Daly himself would say), but nailing a good approach to the green and putting were both challenging. After getting used to the system in Practice mode, I then moved on to Exhibition where you can play 9 or 18 holes on a course without any competitors. On my first hole, I missed the green several times, eventually ending up in the bunker. From there, I finally decided to take a moment to look at the position of the pin, relax, and think about how I would hit that shot in real life. Miraculously, I ended up a few feet away from the pin. It was at that moment the game really cemented itself as a legitimate, substantial step forward for golf games.

The key to performing well is utilizing your practice swings, checking where the trajectory graphic takes the ball, then trying to replicate it for your actual shot. This somewhat replicates the authentic experience, especially when looking up at the flag, then back to your ball, although seeing the trajectory every time may make it too easy after a while playing it on Amateur. This rings especially true with putting, where other games will only show your trajectory once. Still, a plethora of sensitivity and authenticity options exist to keep the game challenging, and finding a perfect swing (and following through with it on your shot) may not always be as easy as it seems.

After hitting my stride in Exhibition, I moved on to Challenge mode, where you take on John Daly in driving, getting onto the green, and putting on various parts of a single course. After beating him in each of these three areas, you can then unlock Tournament mode for that course, but if you come close enough the game will count it as a win as well. Once in Tournament, you compete against other golfers who only show up on the leaderboard over events that may span a couple days, all vying for top honors. The commentary is not especially diverse; you will notice some repetition over the course of a match, but for the most part it is varied enough to not take away from the immersion. A really encouraging aspect is that there are no loading times between holes; you can simply move to the next one with the click of a button. This rings true for the rest of the game as well. The initial load after booting up the disc may seem a tad bit longer than expected, but you appreciate the nominal and non-existent load times for the rest of your session.

I tried to get into the online mode, but unfortunately, I could not get matched into any quick games and there were no custom lobbies available. This may disappoint some online-heavy gamers, but honestly, the game's appeal of allowing you to practice and improve your swing on your own time makes online multiplayer hardly missed.

Before seeing how the game will hold up for non-motion gamers, I decided to test out just how realistic the simulation can get. With the skill and sensitivity levels on their highest settings, my 300-plus yard drives were gone; I found myself hitting closer to my real-life drive distance and many of my shots were all over the place. With a little patience, I could achieve some stability and predictability, but the game assured me that I would not be able to rely as much on using the trajectory of my practice swings.

The standard controller experience is solid enough. More responsive rumble feedback is appreciated, and I was able to move quickly from stroke to stroke with familiar game mechanics. Like the motion controls, it will take some patience to really get your game down, but the learning curve seems just right for a sports game, especially for golf.

The only oddity I really found while playing is what seems to be dynamic advertisements in the game. In between the front and back 9 holes in the Tournament, I was greeted by a Honda commercial. When I came back to the game for another session a few days later, a DVD box set appeared on some billboards, as well as briefly popping up in the bottom right hand corner when I set up at the tee. Some gamers may be offended, but I can't say it's pervasive enough to ruin the immersion. Because advertisements are a big part of golf, some enthusiasts may find it adds to the immersion, ironically enough.

Bottom Line
Much like the game of golf itself (and like "the game of life itself" as my Dad likes to say whenever we're on the course), John Daly's ProStroke Golf can be an incredibly frustrating experience if you don't take the time to plan your shots, or when you just don't ?get? the game. Indeed, the ?OHHHHs? of the crowd and jabs from the commentators will shatter your soul when you barely miss a put and continue to do so if you keep failing. But there's really nothing more satisfying than when you make that first Green in Regulation and sink your first Birdie. ProStroke will intoxicate serious golfers, while undoubtedly pleasing recent Move owners and sports gamers looking for an alternative to the mainstream. This is the new standard in golf games and will continue to be for quite some time.

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